Equity and Access News Letter
Elementary Edition January 2019
New Year’s Resolutions…
By Janie Galbraith, Special Education Teacher, and Equity Champion at Sunshine Elementary.
How many of us have spoken these words on January 1st?
“This is the year I’m going to…”
We have convinced ourselves this year will be the year to shed those extra pounds, go back to the gym, finish that project, or countless other undertakings, only to fall back to the same old habits. We make commitments to drink more water, get our steps in, limit “junk food,” get up earlier and hit the gym, read more books, and many other ways to keep our body and mind healthy. Just imagine what we could do for our mental, emotionally and even spiritually self, if we all decided to share a few random acts of kindness.
A study from Oxford University found performing acts of kindness boosts well-being and positive social emotions. The experiment completed in April 2017 involved 691 participants from 39 countries and investigated kindness to family, friends, strangers, and self. Participants performed acts of kindness every day for seven days. Data from the experiment showed that kindness to all groups had a positive effect on the kind person's happiness, life satisfaction, compassion, trust, positivity regarding humanity, and social connection. Furthermore, the benefits increased as the number of kind acts performed increased.
WOW, it sounds like kindness could motivate us to complete those unfilled resolutions. What better way to master a goal than with a visual, I’ve attached some online resources and a BeKIND board for each Champion to complete in your building. Please, print off extras and create some friendly competition with your co-workers and family members. Design your own board for students in your class.
While you may not get a prize for filling the board, I can guarantee you’re going to get a warm feeling in your heart. This is one resolution we can all meet.
Here are some exciting resources about acts of kindness and their effects:
What's In Your Tool Box?
Talking to Young Children about Bias and Prejudice
Hate is Learned And Can be Unlearned
Children have to be taught to hate and fear. They are not born with those attributes. Hate is learned, and there is no doubt in my mind that it can be unlearned. Leading research on child development indicate that the problem begins as early as preschool, and in most cases, children have already learned stereotypes or acquired negative attitudes toward "others:" It is important to counter those negatives with positives beginning at an early age.
Louise Derman-Sparks, an educator and specialist on child development, points to four major issues that are important to keep in mind when talking to children about prejudice and discrimination.
- Children are not colorblind: children do notice people of different ethnicities, and they need honest explanations about these differences. It is essential for us as educators and parents to be equipped to give accurate but straightforward answers to their questions.
- Talking about differences does not increase prejudice in children: awareness is the best tool we have in our toolbox when talking about differences. Children learn biases from the adults in their lives, from their peers, from books and the media. Parent, teachers, and adult family members need to talk to their kids and give them the correct information about the value of diversity as opposed to prejudices and stereotypes. We need to make sure we are sending the right message.
- It is not enough to talk about similarities among people: our children need to understand that in many ways we are similar but that we sometimes differ in express language and customs.
- Talking to Children About Diversity: it is essential to keep in mind that a child is never too young to learn about diversity. Children start as early as toddlers noticing people with disabilities, and as soon as two and three they see culture and gender. As they began to observe these differences, they may show signs of pre-prejudice and act afraid or uncomfortable but do not know how to express what they are feeling. At this point, they may begin to ask questions. It is essential to share information with them that is age appropriate and share books, music, folktales, and traditions that are culturally diverse.
Creating such an environment is rich in possibilities for exploring diversity:
- It helps children develop their ideas about themselves and others
- It creates the conditions under which children initiate conversations about differences
- It provides adults with a setting for introducing activities about diversity
Talking to Young Children about Bias and Prejudice. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/talking-to-young-children-about-prejudice
Did You Know?
The Five Success Skills Every Student Should Master
In The Formative Five by Thomas R. Hoer, Hoer implies that along with academic success we need character building, “We want to work with honorable people who are motivated to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.” The skills that Thomas R. Hoer addresses in his book are called the “formative five” —they comprise intrapersonal and interpersonal success skills and can be become human literacy. We must consciously teach these skills, include them in the curriculum at every grade level and in every subject matter.
The five skills are:
- Empathy: learning to see the world through others' perspectives.
- Self-control: cultivating the abilities to focus and delay self-gratification.
- Integrity: recognizing right from wrong and practicing ethical behavior.
- Embracing diversity: recognizing and appreciating human differences.
- Grit: persevering in the face of challenge.
Many educators agree that these skills should be taught, but feel they do not have the time to address them. These skills are vital to the success of our students and when we model empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing diversity, and grit, we are developing people who will make a positive contribution in every situation, whether solving a problem at work, coaching a 3rd-grade sports team, or being a good friend.
To measure your students’ progress in these skills let them design their own rubrics using digital photographs of group efforts that show where the class started and how far they have come. When we reflect on what skills we want our students to have in the future to be successful keep in mind: We are striving to develop good people with good human literacy skills.
Hoerr, Thomas R. “The Five Success Skills Every Student Should Master.” Education Week, Editorial Project in Education, 14 Dec. 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/12/12/the-five-success-skills-every-student-should.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2&M=58697393&.
The books recommended for January are:
- Martin Rising by Andrea Davis Pinkney
This celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy was written in verse by Andrea Davis Pinkney and released last year. Her powerful poems focus on the last few months of King’s life, the movement he organized, his assassination, and the hope he inspired in others. Brian Pinkney’s illustrations beautifully capture the raw emotion of Pinkney’s poetry and feature both portraits of King and scenes of the change he helped create.
- Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight for desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
Students already familiar with the story of school integration in the American South may be surprised to learn that Sylvia Mendez and her family fought school segregation in California in 1944. Having just moved to Westminster California, Mendez and her brown-skinned siblings were told they had to attend the inferior Mexican schools instead of the white public school, and they fought in court to attend – and won, setting a precedent for Brown vs. Board of Education. Tonatiuh pulls most of his dialogue from court documents and interviews with Mendez herself, but the text is still readable and engaging for children. This text is an excellent resource for emphasizing that segregation is not just an issue of black and white and that the fight for justice and freedom continues even after our victories.
Book of the Month
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris
In March On! Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sister shares her memories of her brother and the March that changed the world. In March On, she pays tribute to the man, the march and the speech and the effect it had on the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Mrs. Farris felt it was urgent that she added her voice and memories to the many chapters of history written about her brother.
Books are available in Springfield Public School Libraries
Ujima Has Moved
1109 E Commercial St,
Springfield, MO 65803
Annual Springfield NAACP Martin Luther King March
Monday, January 21, 2019, at 8:30 AM – 12 PM
Starting at Jordan Valley Ice Park
635 E. Trafficway St. to The Gilloz Theater